|One of the climbs (this one I did remember)|
So, many hundreds of dollars on physio later, I was at the start line. Mark, as always supportive and encouraging, had given me my final pep talk, with varying degrees of accuracy:
- "you're the fittest you've ever been" - this much was true;
- "you know the course backwards" - we had hiked it the month before but I'd conveniently forgotten key elements like there being 7, not 4, brutal climbs; and
- "if you start, you'll finish" - well, this was kind of true, you crossed one road 10 miles in and, if you didn't turn back then it was finish or wait for mountain rescue...
Enough warm-up, what happened in the race?:
|The ridge section (on a recce run)|
- Adrenaline is a magical substance. I didn't notice my existing injuries and wasn't in much pain until mile 22 when both knees went on strike. For the final 8 miles, I mastered a stiff legged, arm pumping jog which was surprisingly effective.
- Closest I've been to a cougar/mountain lion - at aid station #1 they (accidentally) told me one had been sighted on the trail I'd just run (as well as two surprised bears). "Lucky it isn't ahead of me" I thought. Took me 2 hours to remember that cougars don't respect race leg boundaries and start worrying about every twig snapping.
- I felt incredibly nauseous for about 2.5 hours climbing 1700m. Meant I couldny eat which slowed me down, but just made the pringles at the 2nd/last aid station even better.
- I performed really quite effective first aid on cuts sustained in a fall, simultaneously providing much needed food aid to passing moquitoes, and didn't beat myself up too much about losing my sunglasses.
- I took an extended nature bathroom break. Traumatic. Mosquito ridden. 'Nuff said.
- I was blown away by the views, the first brutal climb topped out on a magnificent ridge line with the snowy peaks of the Northern Cascade range on one side and acres of alpine meadows on the other. Sufficient encouragement to keep running.
- And, what surprised me most was my totally positive attitude for the whole day. I saw only three runners, plus aid station volunteers, all day, but I entertained myself with odes to compression socks, the mountains, pringles and a very un-British sense of pride in my achievement. I had a few tears, but mainly when I thought about the support I'd had from Mark, family, friends and my trail running club. I only had to give myyself one serious 'marshall your resources' talking to (sometimes my surname is pretty useful).
|Chips are an essential recovery tool|
Still in considerable pain as I write this 3 days on (my tibial tendon hasn't quite forgiven me) but immensely satisfied. We leave Friday for our 3 week Western US States road trip. I'm off to buy physio tape and walking poles for our descent into the Grand Canyon...